Monday, June 11, 2018

124. Up Close and Personal ... JOEY "PEPE" SMITH, Pinoy Rock Legend

Last Sunday while looking at one of the bourse tables at Bayanihan Collectors Club auction, I found these pictures of Joey “Pepe” Smith tuck under a pile of old pictures and magazines that were for sale. Apparently, the photos were sold by no other than Pepe Smith, since the owner was a fan of Pinoy Rock music. It was a delight to see these never been published photos of his family and iconic photos of his colorful music career.  It would be shame not to share it with Pepe’s fan. 

Pepe has lived a charmed life.  He’s been married four times, and been with the occasional younger companion numerous times, but Pepe has never been one to settle down for too long.

He survived a house fire in the late 1970s that killed three of his in-laws. He spent nearly one-and-a-half years in the Quezon City jail on drug charges in the late 1980s (later dismissed). He walked away with a cracked jaw from a car crash that killed singer Bes’ Pren Diego. And some years ago, in a wrong-place, wrong-time situation, he narrowly escaped becoming the victim of an extrajudicial killing.

Pepe in his baptismal gown
Most of all, he has survived an epic rock ’n’ roll lifestyle for over 50 years. 

Known for his most enduring songs - “Himig Natin,” “Beep Beep,” “Rak en Rol sa Ulan,” “Mamasyal sa Pilipinas” which became anthems for Pinoy rockers.

Here are some Trivia about Pepe:

His band, the Surfer, played for American soldiers for six months during the Vietnam War.

OK, hold tight you might break
your neck Joseph !!! (caption at the back)

Jailed for six month for alleged drug possession in 1993. One of his constant jail visitors in Quezon City Jail was Apa Ongping. After his release for lack of evidence, Smith held a concert inside the jail.

At 11 he had his first band Blue Jazzers, composed of his friends and neighbors in Kamuning, Quezon City.

In 2005, his very first solo album Idiosyncrasies was released, on Alpha Records. The 14-track album was three-years in the making; he started recording the album in 2002. The album was released simultaneously with the Juan Dela Cruz's three-CD collection from rival Vicor Records.

Despite having an American father, he has never set foot in the USA. It's his dream to visit America. His band, during their peak, only toured United Kingdom and Asia, but never made it in America.

Pepe Smith's Downbeat Band, they did the opening act during the
Beatles concert in Manila on July 4, 1966
One of very few Filipino performers who did opening acts for The Beatles  concert in Manila on July 4, 1966 . His admiration for the Beatles further strengthened his love for music.

First album with Juan Dela Cruz band was "Up in Arms" which was released in 1972. All songs in the album were in English. It was not until the following year that "Ang Himig Natin" (Our Sound) started the Pinoy rock revolution. The band's last hit was "Kahit Anong Mangyari" in 1981.

Pepe with grandmother, Concordia Go, in
Kamuning, Quezon City
Juan Dela Cruz, was part of the first open field rock festival in the Philippines which was held in Antipolo in 1970.

Born to an American father and Filipina mother in Subic Base (once an American base), he grew up at Kamuning with her maternal grandmother at age 3. 

One of his main hobbies is collecting toy planes. His childhood dream is to become a pilot.

A member of the nationalistic and the seminal Philippine rock band, Juan Dela Cruz. Juan Dela Cruz is often regarded as the most common personal name in the Philippines, an equivalent to John Smith in UK and other English-speaking countries.

Joey "Pepe" Smith's first band the BLUE JAZZERS, Christmas Party 1962
With Wally Gonzales, Mike Hanopol and the late Raymund "Bosyo" Fortuno in Juan Dela Cruz, they came up with seminal Filipino rock hit, "Ang Himig Natin" in 1972. Smith composed the song in 20 minutes while inside a comfort room of Arante Colesium where the band was having a concert.


Pepe Smith: 70 years and I’m still rocking  by: Eric S. Caruncho

The Iconic Joey "Pepe" Smith
Pepe w/ Rudy Fernandez and friends

Pepe w/ family and friends

Jamming time

Wasted but not dead
The guitar is mightier than the sword.

Energetic performance ... Long Live Rock 'n' Roll !!!

Are you afraid of the bat ?

OMG... Mini Me !!!

Pepe w/ Alamid 1996 gig.

If I am not into rock and roll... What I am, executive or executed?

Rockin' out for nature

Is it wrong to want to marry my guitar?

Pepe in one of his provincial trips

Walang hintong gig.... kailangan ng bread

Early gigs of Pepe 

Early gigs of Pepe 

JDCB Himig Natin album signed by Joey "Pepe" Smith

Author's Juan Dela Curz Band Records


  1. I always been their fan all the way.

  2. Rest in Peace Legendary Pepe Smith...

  3. Sayonara Joey Pepe. You've always been my idol, as I travel along on my Pinoy Rak en Rol journey, as a fan and as a musician. Although you're now gone but the memories will always remain... and for sure, you won't be forgotten.

  4. You'll never be forgotten... Rock n Roll